American fast food burger franchise Wendy's is on the market after 33 years of being run by West Auckland family the Lendichs.
The local franchise business which operates 22 restaurants throughout the country is seeking a new owner and has hired an advisory firm to assist the process.
Current owners Danny and Dianne Lendich started Wendy's in New Zealand in 1988, unintentionally falling into the business, back when they were opening petrol stations.
Wendy's chief executive Danielle Lendich said her family was looking to pass on the business as her parents were now in their mid-70s.
Lendich, who has been working in the business for the last 23 years, is open to staying on within the business, either in a chief executive, board or management role, but is hoping to free up some time to spend with her children.
"The stores are performing really well, we've opened a number of stores outside of Auckland over the past 10 years and those have really started to hit their straps, so it is a good time now for someone to come along and take the brand to the next level," Lendich, who took over as company chief executive at age 27, told the Herald.
The Lendichs were redeveloping land for a retail centre in Te Atatu, Wendy's of which was geared up to become a tenant when the deal with the party originally set to launch the brand in the market fell through, forcing them to step in.
"We knew of the Wendy's brand because we travelled to America a lot with my Dad's midget car racing, and we had this purpose-built store and potentially no tenant so my parents kind of fell into it. They opened five restaurants reasonably quickly [shortly after].
"It was never a planned acquisition it just kind of happened," Lendich says of the early days.
Lendich would not share company sales revenue figures, but said the Wendy's NZ business was experiencing record sales.
The iconic American burger brand has an ambitious strategy to accelerate global growth.
The Wendy's master franchisor wants to double the number of stores in New Zealand. At the end of last year it opened its 1000th international restaurant.
Globally, Wendy's has opened more than 90 new restaurants in the first quarter of 2022 and has recently re-entered the United Kingdom with plans to expand its brand presence across the greater Europe region and other markets across the globe.
Lendich said Wendy's wanted over 40 stores in the New Zealand market in the coming years.
"They need to see New Zealand grow and now that the business is in a really good place for someone else to come along and grow the brand in New Zealand and possibly further afield," said Lendich.
"We're very proud of what we've done. Wendy's as I say to many people is like my first child, and in fact often takes precedent over both of my children, because it is a 24-hour a day, 365 day-year business, it certainly permeates into everything we do.
"For my parents it will be hard for them - they are known as the Wendy's people. Quite possibly I will continue to be involved somewhere along the line. We are still passionate for the brand and love the brand and happy to stay involved but we want to see it grow."
Lendich was 16 years old when her parents took on the Wendy's brand, but it was not until 10 years later after completing university, her OE and stints in other jobs that she decided to return to work within the family businesses.
"I kind of got thrown into the deep end at 27 and I'm 50 in a month.
"I'm happy to continue to be involved in any way, shape or form. I would like to be able to free up some of my own time and spend a little bit of time with my family who are rapidly reaching the last couple of years of school, so I would like to have a bit more flexibility."
Lendich said she was open to consulting, shareholding or governance involvement with potential new owners.
Despite facing staffing issues in the local workforce, Lendich said fast food was an exciting business to work in, particularly with advancements in technology coming to the fore.
"It is fast-moving, fast-paced and you can see results really quickly with things that you do - and it's growing. It has been the perfect business through Covid because we've been able to operate restaurants through the drive-thru and Uber Eats. The sales that we have managed to push through via our drive-thrus have been phenomenal when we've had the dining rooms shut for so long."
Wendy's employs 450 staff in New Zealand and operates 12 stores in Auckland, two in the South Island and eight throughout the North Island.
The sale of Wendy's NZ is being handled by Spencers Chartered Accountants & Advisers locally and by partner Azure, internationally.